By Emma Kent
Dustin Shields is the face of One Feller Farms, a small business Shields has made growing microgreens at his home in Amory.
Microgreens are young vegetable greens that are harvested early. Shields grows microgreens from purple cabbage, red vein sorrel, arugula, sunflowers, kale and a range of other plants.
“I just started this as kind of a side deal and it’s really taken off,” Shields, who has a degree in agronomy from Mississippi State with an emphasis in plant and soil science, said. “Nobody else does them.”
For now, Shields is operating out of his garage, where he has to keep tabs on the temperature and humidity closely. Shields is in the process of building a greenhouse on his 4-acre farm where he will grow the greens once it’s completed.
“Whenever I get that greenhouse I’ll be able to supply up to 4-5 counties – it’ll be huge,” Shields said.
Shields also grows lettuce, and plans to do that on a larger scale and year-round in the new greenhouse as well.
As the farm-to-table movement picks up across North Mississippi, Shields hopes to garner even more interest in his microgreens. Shields has seen success with the handful of regional restaurants embracing that movement and opting to use locally-grown ingredients.
“I think that’s helped a lot,” Shields said.
So far, Shields delivers his microgreens to about seven restaurants in Tupelo and some in Starkville including Harveys, The Veranda, Park Heights and Forklift, to name a few.
The microgreens are also available at Food Giant in Amory and Todd’s Big Star grocery store in Tupelo. This summer, Shields will sell some of his greens at the Tupelo Farmer’s Market.
On any given day, Shields has 20-24 trays of microgreens growing at a time.
Growing microgreens is a quick process, with most varieties taking only six days to grow from start to finish. The seeds are started in a tray with soil, and once they begin to germinate Shields moves them to sit under lamps where they finish the growing process.
“They’re just harvested really early, and they’re more nutrient-and-antioxidant-rich at that stage,” Shields said.
Shields makes salads with the sunflower and pea shoots. He likes to use the other types of microgreens on sandwiches and in omelettes.
“They’re crunchier than lettuce and they store longer in the refrigerator,” Shields said. “And they’re good on anything.”
All about microgreens
What are microgreens?
Exactly what they sound like – mini vegetable greens. Microgreens are young vegetable greens, harvested after sprouting as shoots.
How do you eat microgreens?
Microgreens are so versatile. They can be added to salads and sandwiches in place of other types of greens or paired with meat as a complementary garnish. They can be added to omelettes, smoothies or anything else you might add greens to.
Do they have unique flavors?
While some types of microgreens taste similar, many of them do have distinct flavors. Microgreens grown from sunflower seeds, for example, have a nutty flavor, while arugula microgreens have a bitter flavor. Some, like wasabi greens, really pack a punch.